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New Safety Standards Are Improving Health System

Published: Tue 18 Sep 2001 11:04 AM
New Safety Standards Are Improving Our Health System
New Health and Disability Sector Standards for hospitals, rest homes and residential disability services are improving safety levels and the quality of care in hospitals and other facilities throughout New Zealand.
The standards which are already being used in places like West Harbour Gardens Private Hospital in Auckland and Hutt Valley District Health Board are being celebrated today at the Ministry of Health during Quality in Health Week.
The Sector Standards are based in part on the Health and Disability Commissioner's Code of Rights which already establishes the level of services and facilities consumers can expect.
It is expected compliance with the Sector Standards will become law once the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Bill is passed some time this year.
Under the new Act, services in hospitals, rest homes and residential disability will have to meet the new standards in order to be certified.
Director General of Health, Dr Karen Poutasi said the Sector Standards will be the comprehensive benchmark by which health and disability services are measured and certified and there were already many providers using them.
"The Sector Standards focus on what happens to people in services and outlines what providers need to achieve to make sure that people are receiving safe quality care".
"The bottom line is that if health or disability providers cannot provide a decent service that can be certificated, they will not be in the business of providing care."
"We are encouraging providers to adopt the new standards and take responsibility for providing a safe service and to continuously improve the quality of their services."
The standards are designed to set agreed levels for minimum safety and to move towards quality improvement. They cover six areas: · Consumer rights · Organisational management · Pre-entry and entry to services · Service delivery · Managing service delivery · Safe and appropriate environments. The other Standards that have been developed include: · Infection Control (NZS 8142:2000) · Restraint Minimization and Safe Practice (NZS 8141:2001) · National Mental Health Standard
"The whole idea is to improve safety and quality in our health and disability system, boost public confidence, modernise health legislation and give clear guidance to health providers about the standard of health care we all expect" Dr Poutasi said.
West Harbour Gardens Private Hospital Manager Noeline Whitehead said while the standards were not yet mandatory her residents had a right to quality care.
At West Harbour staff have rewritten the infection control policies and procedures and have developed a comprehensive risk management plan that includes things like checking the lighting levels.
Ms Whitehead suggested providers who weren't already voluntarily meeting the standards should start working with them now so they will be well down the path to compliance when the standards become law.
Hutt Valley District Health Board Quality Manager Helen Smith said the new standards had been built into Hutt Valley District Health Board's overall quality programme.
"It is important for an organisation to have a framework in place for ensuring quality care."
Since district health boards took on their new responsibilities on July 1, Hutt Valley District Health Board is the first board to be awarded full accreditation status for three years following its regular Quality Health New Zealand survey.
"As a result of the recent survey staff now have a benchmark from which improvement can continue. The results give the Hutt Valley community a level of confidence in the health services we are providing."
ENDS
Questions and Answers
How were the standards developed? Expert technical committees worked on the Standards and these committees included representatives from the relevant areas of the health and disability sector including consumers/ kiritaki. The Standards were released for public consultation before being finalised. The consultation on the Standards received input from a range of key stakeholders including health and disability sector providers, consumers/ kiritaki, non-government organisations and other people from across New Zealand. The Standards were also presented to an overarching Standards Management Committee that included nine sector representatives.
What will the new standards mean for me? The Safety Standards set the minimum you, your mother or grandmother would expect, for instance, in a rest home or in hospital. They are not Rolls Royce standards and do not necessarily have all the bells and whistles. Some providers will far exceed the required standards. For example, although this is not required, most new residences for elderly people have rooms with ensuites.
What will happen when the Health and Disability Services (Safety) Bill is passed? Up until now compliance with the Health and Disability Sector Standards has been voluntary. Once the Bill passes into law compliance with the standards will become law. Under the new Act, providers of hospitals, rest homes and residential disability services will have to meet the new standards in order to be certified. There will be a two-year transition period to allow existing providers time to meet the requirements.
What will it cost providers? As the Safety Standards are based in part on the Health and Disability Commissioner's Code of Rights which already establishes the level of services and facilities consumers can expect, the Health Ministry believes there should be little extra cost to relevant providers for ensuring their facilities are operating at a high standard.
Where will the proposed Bill be applied? Children's health, geriatric, maternity, medical, mental health and surgical services will be covered by the Bill. The legislation will apply to rest homes for elderly people where there are more than three residents and to residences where more than five people reside who have intellectual, physical, psychiatric or sensory disabilities.
Facts Sheet The Health and Disability Sector Standards are designed to set an agreed level for minimum safety and to encourage quality improvement. They cover six key areas: · Consumer rights · Organisational management · Pre-entry and entry to services · Service delivery · Managing service delivery · Safe and appropriate environments.
The other Standards that have been developed include: · Infection Control (NZS 8142:2000) · Restraint Minimization and Safe Practice (NZS 8141:2001) · National Mental Health Standard The standards will eventually be used by over 3000 service providers - about two thirds of the country's health and disability services. The proposed Bill will repeal the following Acts and Legislation: · The Hospitals Act 1957; · The Hospitals Regulations 1993; · The Old People's Homes Regulations 1987; · The Obstetric Regulations 1986; · Sections of the Disabled Persons Community Welfare Act 1975
The purpose of the Bill is to : · Promote the safe provision of health and disability services to the public · Enable the establishment of consistent and reasonable standards for providing health and disability services to the public safely · Encourage providers of health and disability services to take responsibility for providing those services to the public safely · Encourage providers of health and disability services to the public to improve continuously the quality of those services.
Copies of all relevant Standards can be purchased from Standards New Zealand. Standards New Zealand, Private Bag 2439, Wellington 6020.
Telephone: (04) 498 5990, Fax: (04) 498 5994. Website: www.standards.co.nz.
Ends

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